Eden Creates Emotional Electro-Pop

Eden Creates Emotional Electro-Pop

The rising musician is shaping his emotions into a conceptually original, complex poetic sound.

The rising musician is shaping his emotions into a conceptually original, complex poetic sound.

Photography: Scandebergs

Styling: Warren Leech

Text: Ilana Kaplan

For Jonathan Ng, music has always been a compulsion. He was singing along to the radio back when lyrics were just jumbled syllables to him. There was no “aha” moment. There was no point in time when he thought, I want to start making music now.

At eight years old, Ng wrote over other artists’ lyrics and later, when he learned how to play instruments, he created his own words from scratch. “I don’t know why I did, or why I still do, to be completely honest,” he says. “It just feels like I should.”

Now 22, the classically trained producer and singer-songwriter is on the rise. When he initially began making music in his home country of Ireland, there wasn’t much of a scene for his work to fit into because there was a deficit of producers. But it’s evolved, and so has Ng’s identity: while he was in school he went by the stage name The Eden Project. He then proposed a business plan with projected artist earnings to his parents to let him drop out of university, which they “weirdly” accepted. “Fast forward maybe a couple of months, and I was earning from Spotify alone what I thought I would earn from selling my music everywhere,” he says. During that time, he changed his moniker to simply EDEN.

In 2016, Ng released his debut EP as EDEN, i think you think too much of me, which focused on his vulnerable vocals and synth-heavy instrumentation. The first single from the EP, “sex,” even caught the attention of Lorde, who professed her love for it on Ng’s Facebook wall. It proved a well-earned career boost.

This January saw the release of Ng’s first-ever full-length album, vertigo. Before he knew how the songs would sound, Ng knew that would be the record’s title—it’s something he says was deeply rooted in his mind. While pop remains a unifying thread of the album, the tracks are a melting pot, the result of diverse influences such as My Chemical Romance, Frank Ocean, Phoebe Bridgers, and Sampha.

As different as the songs on vertigo may be, their seamless coherence can make it hard to tell where one ends and another begins—and that was the intention. “I wanted it to be listened to as a whole,” Ng says of the album. “When I was writing [the record], I really wanted to abandon any expectation or preconception about what kind of songs I wanted them to be, or how they might build or not build.” Ng was just as thoughtful about the track names as he was about the way they flowed. “To me the song titles offer another way to inform the narrative or emotion of the music,” he says. The stylization of names like “forever//over” or “love; not wrong (brave)” are as poetic as his description of making them. “Looking back, it’s weird how they are so indicative of the ideas and concepts that were on my mind and run through the music, and of my obsession with the sky,” he muses.

Overall, uncomfortable as it might be for Ng, vertigo is about self-examination and exploring his insecurities. It’s about his journey of self-reflection. And ultimately it’s about creating something he loves without compromise.

JACKET BALMAIN, TOP JOHN SMEDLEY
Credits: GROOMING BEN TALBOT (THE WALL GROUP), LOCATION CRE8STUDIO

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